Fude – 筆

A door squeaks
the time of a breath
blinding light
– my feet are in the mud.
My white dress is stained
with soil and water
and my fingers with black ink.
Memories in my head
leave through my feet
and swim in the pond
porting multi-coloured veils.
They reach the shore
and become flowers.
I see particles of light
cytoplasm dancing in the air
settling softly
on little blades of grass
in this vast field of flowers
that I created.
A door squeaks
the time of a breath
blinding light
– I hold a fude*.


*Fude (筆 – Japanese) is a brush used for calligraphy.

It happens when I tell a story

It happens when I tell a story.

For the lady sitting in the kitchen, cleaning green peas from the pods, my stories make her smile. As she listens to me, she distinctly recalls her first kiss and that first embrace so many years ago. I can tell by the gentle way she leans on the side as she reaches for the pods. As the mountain of peas grows, a discreet smile paints itself on her thin lips, expressing secret longings. As they open slightly, they release a soft sigh that I feel had been kept inside for a very long time. She looks up at me. She is silent and yet, I can read countless stories in her eyes.

For the children sitting in a circle, some leaning against each other and others looking at their toes, my stories fill them with wonder. They listen and see me gesticulate and exaggerate, and suddenly they are transported to the desert where the immense night sky is filled with countless stars. Some, they tell me, can even hear the gentle “cling clang” of the wooden bells baby camels wear. And when they leave the circle, the setting of their play has expanded infinitively.

For the man sitting next to me in the bus, my stories open his heart. He tells me how he felt when his first child was born, and when his second one died at just nine days old. He tells me with his eyes shining with tears, that his most precious desire in life is not to have a mansion, but to hold his son in his arms just one more time. He continues to talk and this time, I listen.

All this happens when I tell a story.

I like to tell stories. Maybe it is because I carry in my Arab blood the millenary tradition of telling stories and reciting poetry; or maybe, it is simply because I love to share and colour things around me.

Why don’t you try it one day? Tell stories to strangers and you will see how their eyes will shine and smiles will faintly trace memories and dreams on their lips. Open your heart and other hearts will open.

It happens to me all the time. Such a precious gift to give and to receive, don’t you think?

Now and again, some people may not want to listen or partake. That is fine of course. I then write my stories down, often in the form of a poem, and come here to share and colour the world.

Thank you for reading.



The world is filled with so much noise.

I am not talking about the limpid note of the Ney
nor the melodies of the nightingale falling in love with the rose.
Those – I hear in poems.

I am talking about the strident sounds of war and destruction,
the ones that deafen me beyond the silence of the screen.

These sounds are thick and tainted with green,
the dirty green of shame.
And no matter how much I try to shield my heart,
they penetrate me to the bone.

So what am I to do?

Of course I want to fill the world with the sounds of laughter
and look above the clouds and under the tables of elegant ladies.

Of course I want to love. Really love.
Love the man at the corner bent like a half burnt candle
and the little girl calling with her deep dark eyes in the mists of rubble.

And I want to kiss. Really kiss. With tenderness.
Like a child holding a seashell in the palm of his hand.

And I want to share. Share everything.
Melting butter on warm bread,
the smile of my son as he falls asleep,
and the immense sky above my house.

I want to trace with my fingers the scent of jasmine
then gently caress my wounds and the ones of the world.

And then maybe, just maybe,
the warmongers will stop and
silence will no longer deafen
becoming the soothing one so many poets write about.



[Instructions: Read … or cut in little pieces and put back together as you wish … or don’t read at all.]

The old man
reading the telephone book
at the beach.
Deconstructing the population,
re-ordering it in alphabetical order.
Page three onwards,
it gets as boring as reading Derrida.
But telephone books don’t exist anymore!
Which reminds me that
you can’t make prank calls anymore either!
Remember them?

But now you can voice an opinion
even if you know nothing
five thousand kilometers
away from the blasphemous dictator
… it helps and shields
and allows you to say
whatever you want.
Just like a prank call.
And yet…
Have you thought
of the consequences
for the ones trapped
five thousand kilometers away?
If drones visit them,
well you know…
it’s complicated!
Certainly more complicated
than laughing at the butcher
after he told you he had pigs’ feet.

Oh and that zit on the nose
and the wrinkles
and the sad face
all of them erased
by computer magic.
Is that de-construction
or re-construction?

[I always get them mixed up.]

Now everyone shows up
so so happy!
Hiding the tears – what tears?
Hiding the loneliness – I’m not lonely!
Speak for yourself!

Oh and we still have that capacity
you know
of blowing up the earth
forty times over!
Just like that!
Without even moving our toes.

Tell that to the old man
reading the phonebook
attached to a web of tubes
sustaining his breathing.
But his life?
Oh who cares!
He gets to live long so
do not complain!

Everyone wants that
you know …
a loooong life
and to be young
and to stay young.
What happened to that
growing old gracefully?
Remember the ad?
Now no one wants that.
They want a loooong life.
Don’t they realize how empty it will become?

[Additional instructions: there are four “o” in long. That’s Shi in Japanese. Do you know what else it means? No? Here is a hint: ]

Oh but science my friends!

A table is basically made
of a gazillion particles
where 99.99999% of each particle
is made of emptiness space.
But when you tell them
that we are all larger
than the sum of our parts,
they all chant in unison
and out of tune:
“Nonsense! Irrational! Preposterous!”

Ok then.
I have no idea why I am writing all this.
Oh well just… You know…
I have always loved mathematics
almost as much as language
Wait hold on…

They also messed with that!
Didn’t you know?
Now he and she and it
and me and you
must all be used
and if possible all at the same time
so as to offend no one.
So if I understand correctly,
it is back to the phonebook method.
De Saussure

[Ha! “de chaussure!”]

and Derrida must be pleased;
but not Plato, the master of ideas,
nor Russell, the one of logic.

[Even more instructions: if you have no clue what I am talking about, cut in little pieces, mix well and make a puzzle.]

So I decided:
he is all of you,
and she is just me!

And the plays and the operas!
Now they take away
the plots and replace them
with stupidity…

[It is the first time I use this word, kindly note my restraint.]

A gentle lady Macbeth,
an Ophelia that remains alive,
a Sisyphus that makes it up the mountain,
an Oedipus without love tangles,
and Carmen Oh! Carmen!
No longer selling cigarettes
nor her body…
“L’amour est un oiseau rebelle
que nul ne peut apprivoiser…”
No more…
They placed it in a cage
with a label
and a responsible attitude.
So adjust your tie please.

As for me well…
This year I will turn an absolute number!
I love it and it gets
rarer with age.

[I told you I liked mathematics.]

I will take full advantage of it
since it can only be divided by one and itself.
So I will be renewed
just as I am.
My heart will not be fractioned
and no one will be able
to deconstruct me!


Music: Julia Migenes-Johnson sings “L’amour est un oiseau rebel” from the Opera Carmen. 

The Tao: three treasures

If I may, I share here one passage from the “Tao Te Ching,” a book I actually read every morning. I read this passage to my nine year old son today, after we had a discussion on patience and reaching compromises with people who may not want to do so. I thought it offered three pieces of advice, which applicability is apt for most situations in life. Thank you.

“Some say my teaching is nonsense.
Others call it lofty but impractical.
But to those who have looked inside themselves,
this nonsense makes perfect sense.
And to those who put it into practice,
this loftiness has roots that go deep.

I just have three things to teach:
simplicity, patience and compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both your friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings of the world.”

– Poem 67 of the “Tao Te Ching” by Lao Tzu (VIth. c. BCE), translated by Stephen Mitchell (1999).


Sadness is an immense meadow.
A misty meadow filled with elegant trees,
branches laden with silent love.

Live your sadness thoroughly
like a rainy day that seems to never end.
Shed tears. Shed them all.

Let sadness devastate you,
crush your heart
until slowing it to the limits of life.

Then let the intense force of love,
the very root and fruit of sadness,
awake it all.

Let love open your eyes
and pull you up so that you may stand
in the vast meadow of sadness.

Let love reveal to you
that state of grace that only beauty confers.
Let it enrobe you with its immeasurable tenderness.

Yes, the world is often rough and cunning,
shattering our most intimate thoughts
and forcing us to doubt the simple beauty in our lives.

So open your eyes and take in the beauty.
Let all your sadness become a piece of cloud,
then place it inside your heart so that love may find a place to rest.